- United managed to keep a clean sheet against an in-form Chelsea team who are yet to lose since Tuchel took charge of the team in January and had won four of the last five matches in the League. Both teams were tactically well drilled and worked their socks off, which resulted in very few chances on both ends. A few United ‘fans’ will look at the stalemate and point out that we have not won in the League against ‘top six’ opposition this season. I see it a bit differently. I was actually impressed by United today. We certainly did not try to soak up the pressure from Chelsea but the players were always on the front foot. We pressed Chelsea high up the pitch and I’m sure everyone noticed how our full backs pushed up against the Chelsea wing backs even in their own half. It was a high tempo game and we were up for the challenge, even though we had one day less to recover from the Euro matches of mid-week compared to our opponents. At the end, we did not have enough quality in the final third to win the game, a clear example being the opportunity at the end when Scott did not manage to play the right pass in the box with three United players waiting eagerly for the tap-in. The absence of Paul Pogba during the last month has deprived United of distinctive quality and has put too much pressure on Fernandes.
- The defence played really well against Chelsea, with Maguire excellent once again and leading his teammates to another clean sheet. My special mention today though goes for Fred. He has been immense against Chelsea. We have got accustomed by now how Fred never stops running during a match, tackling, intercepting and hassling opponents into making mistakes. So when like today he adds to his usual endeavours also plenty of quality, Fred becomes the main man for United. Apart from a number of good forward runs and dribbles during the match and also a brilliant shot with his weaker foot which ended agonisingly wide, in the 89th minute he played a peach of a through-pass to the advancing McTominay on the flank that both Pogba and Fernandes would have been proud of. That was in the 89th minute when most players would have had nothing left in the tank. Impressive.
- In a match where the clear chances by both teams were at a premium, the strange decision by the referee in the first half takes additional significance. It was very difficult during the live action for anyone to notice that Hudson-Odoi hits the ball with his fist in the Chelsea penalty area, possibly also missed by the referee. I am sure that the Chelsea player knew right away that he was in trouble, simply because his hand was not in a natural position when he made contact with the ball and when the VAR spotted the infringement and made the point to the referee that it was a penalty, everyone thought that Fernandes would have one more chance to add to his goal tally for the season. In steps the referee and incredibly enough, after watching the incident on the pitch-side monitor, he decides that the infringement was not enough to give a penalty to United. I write these articles without looking at reactions or comments, just to make sure that I am not influenced in my observations, so I am really curious to know more what the referee was thinking there. These are the moments that turn a draw into a win. Not the first time this season that United suffered from decisions which looked obvious. Sheffield United comes to mind. It was not to be…
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.